On 10 March 2021 the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that further extensions would be introduced which will affect the position of both commercial and residential landlords and tenants throughout England. The Housing Secretary has explained the intention is that the measures “will build on the government’s action to provide financial support as restrictions after lifted over the coming months”.

Residential tenants

When first introduced on 25 March 2020, Section 29 of the Coronavirus Act originally extended the notice period on landlords serving notices under Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to 3 months. The notice period was further increased from 29 August 2020, whereby the required period was increased to 6 months, save in the most severe circumstances including serious anti-social behaviour and serious rent arrears (i.e. arrears of at least 6 months).

Whilst it was not clear whether they would return to the pre-Coronavirus Act 2020 requirements or would be gradually reduced, the extended notice period requirement was set to expire on 31 March 2021. This has now been further extended, with the increased notice periods in place until at least 31 May 2021, giving many residential tenants further protection.

The Government has also extended the date on the stay of possession proceedings, which was due to expire on 31 March 2021. In tandem with the date for notice periods, this has also been extended to 31 May 2021 meaning no bailiff eviction can take place until at least then.

Commercial tenants

Section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced restrictions on forfeiture of commercial proceedings, with landlords unable to forfeit a lease on the basis of non-payment of rent. The original period of protection for commercial tenants was due to end on 30 June 2020. However, this has been extended on multiple occasions to 30 September 2020, 31 December 2020, and 31 March 2021.

The extension to 31 March 2021 was believed to be the final extension, but following the Housing Secretary’s announcement on Wednesday, the protection period has been further extended to 30 June 2021. It is hoped that this will help those most affected by the pandemic, namely bars and restaurants that have been forced to close, to resume trading when hospitality is set to re-open no earlier than 17 May 2021.

It remains to be seen in light of the previous extensions and with the current furlough scheme not due to end until September 2021 whether these dates will be extended once again to protect the position of commercial and residential tenants throughout England.

This article was written by Trainee Solicitor Brodie Ross, amended by Senior Associate Rachel Gimson. If you would like to discuss the above topic with our talented Property Litigation Solicitors, please email online.enquiries@la-law.com or call 01202 786175.